Bosnia and Herzegovina + 1 more

IOM press briefing notes 28 Jan 2003: Mali, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Spokesperson:=A0 Christopher Lom
MALI - Return and Reintegration Assistance For Trafficked Children - IOM has provided return and reintegration assistance to 293 illiterate and impoverished Malian children trafficked to work as domestic and agricultural labourers in Cote d'Ivoire.

The programme, funded by the US, Italian and Belgian governments, is in cooperation with the governments of Mali and Cote d'Ivoire, UNICEF, ILO / IPEC, Save the Children Canada and the Malian NGO, Mali Enjeu.

Although returns have been temporarily suspended due to the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire, the programme=A0 hopes to eventually help 2,000 Malian children engaged in forced labour in Cote d'Ivoire.

"The children, who are either intercepted at the border or repatriated from Cote d'Ivoire, are recruited at the outset by intermediaries who promise them better lives abroad," says Jean Louis Domergue, IOM's Chief of Mission in Dakar, Senegal.

The IOM reintegration program targets children from the Malian regions of Bamako, Ségou, Mopti, Koulikoro, and Sikasso.

IOM, in cooperation with Save the Children Canada, is currently providing medical and psychological support among other reintegration activities for the children at a transit center in the southern Malian town of Sikasso.

For further information contact: Jean-Louis Domergue, IOM Regional Representative, Dakar, Senegal. Tel. +221.865.1900 Email.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA - Former Soldiers Start New Lives - Some 5,300 Bosnian former soldiers have applied to join an IOM programme to help them to make the transition from military to civilian life.

IOM's "Transitional Assistance for Discharged Soldiers" programme, funded by the US, British, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian and Polish governments, was set up in 2002 to help some 10,000 soldiers demobilized under a plan to downsize BIH's 24,000-strong army by 10,000 men.

IOM is currently working with approximately 2,500 of the former soldiers to help retrain them for civilian jobs. Some 600 others have already received assistance in the form of training, education, job placement and trade kits or agricultural tools.=A0

Some of the former soldiers have been retrained as deminers and almost 100 have been retrained as firefighters.=A0 When their training is complete, they will be employed in their municipalities, using firefighting equipment donated the British government.=A0

Programme participants all undergo individual counselling provided by IOM. Many face not only economic difficulties, but also social ones, which need to be addressed before they can make a successful transition to civilian life.=A0

BiH and the neighbouring Republika Srpska are both expected to eventually make further cuts in their armed forces to bring their military spending in line with peacetime requirements.

For more information, please contact: Federico Soda, IOM Sarajevo, Tel: 387.33.648 204